Professional Friends Boost Performance for At-Risk Children

  • Hearts of ECMO benefit funds oxygenation method and research
  • Syndicated loan professionals spin for American Cancer Society

Everyone’s got friends, but not everyone has a Friend. Yes, there are professional Friends out there, but it’s not what you’re thinking. They aren’t there to text with you while waiting on line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or help you shop for a couch. They are professional, full-time mentors with offices in the South Bronx and Harlem, and their support and enthusiasm are directed at children in those neighborhoods.

Friends helping kids

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Friends of the Children New York provides one-on-one mentoring to children from kindergarten through high school -- a 12-year commitment. The kids are called Achievers owing to the fact that having a long-term mentor increases their chances of graduating, avoiding the juvenile justice system and delaying parenthood until adulthood.

Jeremie Knight, Terri Sorensen and Jerome Grant

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The Friends of the Children benefit Thursday night brought out all the Friends (the organization has 22 on staff) and a few Achievers (they number 161). In the latter category, one entertained on the piano, another told the crowd she was headed to her first-choice college in the fall, SUNY Albany.

The Friends for their part danced onto the stage at Edison Ballroom and looked so friendly, dozens of guests raised their paddles to make donations. About 80 percent of the Friends of the Children budget goes to pay for the Friends and last year’s benefit enabled the organization to hire two more.

NYC Expansion

Executive Director Jerome Grant said he and the board are weighing options for how to expand in New York City from an annual budget of about $2.5 million to double that, serving twice as many kids. The national umbrella group is conducting a $25 million campaign to increase capacity at existing chapters and add new ones.

Kevin Matthews, Matthew Landy, David Hume and James Ambler

Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Matthew Landy, a portfolio manager, joined the board through an introduction provided by Youth Inc. Asked about a mentor that helped him, Landy talked of his track coach. “He showed you the potential," said Landy, whose best event was the 800 meters. Best time: 1:47.80.

Going out on a balmy Saturday night, it was easy to take the ability to breathe for granted. Those who headed to Stage 48 were a bit more aware, as they celebrated the organization Hearts of ECMO. ECMO is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, delivering oxygen to the blood when the lungs and heart are unable. An ECMO machine helped Noah Cooper recover after fainting on a treadmill because of a severe arrhythmia. It also saved Daniel Ezra’s wife Lizzie Asher. She was pregnant when large blood clots collapsed her lungs. A medical team delivered her son and put her on ECMO.

Seed Funding

Noah Cooper, Lizzie Asher and Daniel Ezra

Source: Hearts of ECMO

The Hearts of ECMO fundraiser brought out Cooper, who works for Bank of America, Credit Suisse’s Ezra and Asher, and many of their peers. This past year the organization provided seed funding for three early stage ECMO research projects and built an infrastructure for an online community called "ECMO Cares," said Cooper, who co-founded the group. Next up: grants for ECMO training are being explored, and research grants will continue, he said. The event raised $150,000.

Syndicated loan market professionals filled 60 bikes in the inaugural SYNCycle raising $10,000 for the American Cancer Society. James Hussney of KeyBanc Capital Markets, Erica Frontiero of Antares Capital and Marilyn Densel-Fulton of ING Capital were among the organizers of the April 14 event. Leading the sweaty brigade: SoulCycle’s Austin Cope, with a playlist including “Born to  Express Love," a remix of Lady Gaga, Madonna and David Guetta, and ‘Strong" by London Grammar. So now you know what gets those SYN-ers’ hearts a pumpin’.

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